The last time the Timberwolves played the Wizards, Dario Saric got off to quite a start. Saric scored the first seven points of the game for the Wolves, although they would go on to lose by 14.
Saric scored 13 points in that game, and then 13 points again in Saturday night’s 135-130 overtime victory. Those two games mark his highest scoring output in his past eight games. It’s been an inconsistent year of scoring for Saric, who has been starting since Feb. 11 after spending the first part of his Wolves tenure coming off the bench.
Despite the up-and-down scoring numbers, interim coach Ryan Saunders said he has liked how Saric has played since moving to the starting lineup.
“You see he is more comfortable as a starter, and it’s just about playing for our team, playing consistent …” Saunders said. “We’ve seen Dario, he’s had some really good games.”
Saunders said if Saric has one flaw, it’s that he might care too much about how he’s playing, and that can affect his play overall.
“He puts pressure on himself sometimes to make shots and things like that; it’s just because he wants to be great and help his teammates,” Saunders said. “We’d rather have a guy like that care as opposed to a guy who doesn’t care.”
Saric said sometimes his shooting confidence can waver when he gets off to a slow start.
“Stuff is going through your mind,” Saric said. “But here players are very good. They say shooters shoot, and I really try to be focused from the beginning of the game and if I miss a couple, I should start to be … ready to score the next one.”
Saric has also been playing more minutes with Karl-Anthony Towns, whom Saric refers to as “the KAT,” and learning how to play off Towns. Towns said Saric has a tendency to defer to him and other Wolves scorers — and he is trying to change that.
“The biggest challenge I presented to him from me to him was just instilling that confidence to shoot,” Towns said. “Just don’t think about a bad shot. Don’t think that you need to feed me the ball. Want you to be confident in yourself and your abilities and just shoot when you have an open shot. Don’t look to pass if you’re open. Take your shot, and he’s been doing a much better job of that recently.”
Wiggins out, Bates-Diop starts
Andrew Wiggins missed Saturday’s game because of a bruised left quad. It was the seventh game Wiggins has missed this season. In his place was a surprise starter — rookie Keita Bates-Diop. Bates-Diop, who has been getting more minutes of late, made the first start of his career.
The Wolves signed forward Cameron Reynolds to a second 10-day contract after his first one expired. Reynolds appeared in two games this season in games that were out of hand late. He’s the second player the Wolves have signed to two 10-day contracts after guard Isaiah Canaan.